I went from being slightly teed off at the current state of American music to just laughing about it.
Poor Smartacus, having to watch the Grammy’s with his dad the culture critic, the everything critic, the grump on the couch with nothing to lose.
“Wow, that was trashy,” I said of a particularly smutty performance. “Let’s see them top that!”
And, in no time, they did.
I kept my mouth shut initially. I’ve always prided myself on a rather pagan value system, tolerant of nudity and subversives…the snide outbursts of youth.
Then I started reading on social media how entertaining some viewers found this Grammy trashiness. To me, it was the “G-String Grammy’s,” and while I’m a believer in being provocative (and an occasional admirer of g-strings) I found the Grammy’s overall to be vulgar and embarrassing, an affront to females – as staged by females.
Go figure. So out-of-step and confused. What else is new, eh?
Rule of thumb: Live long enough and you will eventually be out of step with pop culture, recognize performers’ desperate attempts to get noticed, realize that this isn’t about art, it’s about fame. And when you speak up about it, you’ll be dismissed as the old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn.
I accept that for what it is. At one point, amid all the stripper-pole dance moves and sharply cut underwear, there was a commercial for bikini shavers in remote regions of the groin.
At that point, I finally realized what was going on.
“It’s a comedy!” I told Smartacus. “I get it now, this is all a big British farce.”
Even he laughed.
My goal, always, is to make Smartacus laugh. Exposed to my sophisticated humor from an early age, he can sometimes see the joke coming. Since comedy is surprise, that makes it extra challenging.
But we laughed together at the Rabelaisian nature of the G-String Grammy’s. Eventually, I found everything about it funny, except of course host Trevor Noah, who was hired to be funny but was definitely not. In the end, I found that kind of funny too.
As they say, you can laugh or you can cry, and I went from being slightly teed off at the current state of American music to just laughing about it. John Lennon is dead; Patsy Cline too. I just need to come to terms with that.
The kids don’t learn guitar anymore, they learn code. That’s starting to show. And now they have their parents tied up in the basement and are having this raucous nationally televised party where someone could get pregnant at any time.
I suppose that’s what popular music has always been about: shock and seduction. If I were a CBS stockholder, I’d be ashamed. Then again, I’m not. Besides, this is all about money, so maybe I’d stand up and cheer.
Listen, pop culture will have to go on without me soon – me, the scoldy and judgmental Santa appalled at all this lewd behavior.
I coughed the other morning while bending to put on shoes, and it came out as a gasp/bellow/death rattle/cry-for-help, a sound I had never before produced.
I mean, I’ve cried for help before but no one answered, especially not my late wife Posh, who used to respond, “Work it out yourself,” as if I were a first-grader and she was trying to build character. That certainly never worked (though I saw her indifference as a sign that maybe I’d have the wherewithal to rescue myself).
So when I coughed out this sound the other morning, I thought to myself: “DON’T LET THE OLD MAN IN! DON’T LET THE OLD MAN IN!” as per the Toby Keith song.
My sixtysomething buddies and I talk about this occasionally: “DON’T LET THE OLD MAN IN!”
Where you falter in that, most often, is to not laugh about the disconcerting state of things. Such as the Grammy’s. Or the sad state of movies. Or the discomforting state of pop culture in general.
I think you have to realize that the youngsters now get their turn, and if you find their music and values kind of guttural, misogynistic and almost totally without merit, rest assured that your parents once felt that way about your music and values too.
And these kids, in 20 or 30 years, will feel the same way about their own kids’ music.
They will sit on the couch and think: “Dear gawwwwd, are there any adults left in the world? Dear gawwwwd, please bring back Post Malone!”
An aging Beyonce will teeter on stage, and all the oldsters will get misty at how old and tired she looks and how fast it goes, and how great pop music was in the good old says.
And that, old buddy, is life.
Happy St. Patrick’s Week. We’ll celebrate Thursday with a Gin & Tonic bash. I think we have enough room where everyone is welcome. Bring your own booze (of any kind), and please be discreet since boozing in public is generally not acceptable these days. What is happening to America? That will be one of our topics, as well as the push-pull between decadence and good taste. Or maybe we’ll just raise a glass and tell a few jokes. See you there. For details or questions, email me at letters@ChrisErskineLA,.com. Cheers.